I got to say that I love your plan and where you want to go with you life. I hope I can help you move in that direction.
I build tiny houses and could build a custom home to fit your needs and deliver anywhere in the states/ish. Let me know what you're looking for and a price range and we can talk! email@example.com
Also, land in south central Ky, where I live, is around $1500-$3000 per acre. Beautiful scenery,good climate, great woodlands, good grass.
Hopefully my subject line is fairly self explanatory. I have a 16x26 cinder block cottage, currently in build phase, that I would like to put an A-frame style roof on with two dormers and maybe a small loft depending on how steep I want to go with the pitch.
I have seen first hand the amount of condensation that can happen in these types of systems when the cool air from outside meets the warm air inside and most definitely will avoid that at all costs. Conventionally the easy fix is bubble wrap, felt etc, but if I can avoid that as well I will want to. Of course the majority of heat is lost through the roof so I want as much insulation as possible.
I have thought about many of these aspects extensively, but I can't seem to come up with a good solution.
Can I avoid using underlayment beneath my metal roofing with a type of rain screen? Has anyone done this and if so, how?
I can structurally use 2x6's to frame my ceiling but something with a little more depth may be better like a 2x10, so that more insulation can be packed in, I am guessing.
I live in timber rich south central Kentucky and can get my hands on unlimited amounts of sawdust. How does one go about dense packing sawdust in a ceiling?
Thanks for the 2 cents worth! Can i get anymore pennies out of you?
Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Remember you can replace the straw with hemp hurd, sawdust, wood chip, ground or layered old felt carpet padding and even ground new paper (aka cellulose insulation) in various density configurations and forms. This entire "light cobb" system is very ancient in orgin and flexibility of design...
Very cool! I always love building techniques that can be adapted and implemented in many different cultures and areas of the world. We have a large forestry industry and not as much straw here in south central Ky, so I may seriously consider using wood chips or saw dust.
Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Absolutely you can!! I still would recommend a "rainscreen" system to mount your b&b to, but this type of finish is more that plausible. I would need to know more specifics to give and detail advice or make further recommendations...
Could you elaborate on a "rainscreen"? What specifics would you need to know?
Jennifer Meyer wrote: a primary concern with straw bale construction is humidity.
This could not be more true! Improperly designed SB structures have serious potential issues, like any improperly designed structure, but a properly designed SB structure can last for 100's of years. here is a thread giving great examples of the durability of SB architecture.
Jennifer Meyer wrote: I'm just south of you in NC, where I wouldn't even consider straw bale because of the high humidity. What the termites don't get, the mold will. You might want to treat your bales with a retardant or consider earth bag construction if you have a humid climate where you are.
There are examples of well built SB homes in humid states like WA. It can be done no problem.
If you haven't considered light clay as a building method you could check that out. A great alternative to SB. Having looked at both methods, I would consider light clay to be easier and just as effective.
I don't know much about straw bale; but I do know you can not substitute hay. Hay is 'greener' than straw. It has more organic matter and moisture. The hay will break down over time and lose volume and eventually return to soil. Straw is much more stable over a longer period. Also hay is 'wetter' than straw and will cause moisture/mold issues inside your walls. Straw has a very very low moisture content.
If you build with straw you will likely have to truck it in from a grower that specializes in high compression bales; or have someone custom bale the straw. The bales have to be around 900 to 1000 psi to make good building material. I have read the 'normal' baling pressure of straw bales is in the 400 psi range. Again, this is just from reading a few years back.
While it is true that hay cannot be substituted for straw, it is not necessarily true that you will have to go to any great length of effort to provide yourself with building quality bales. The bales themselves should not be supporting any part of the structural integrity. Your framing does that and the bales in-fill everything else. Of course you would want as tight and densely packed bale as you can find but i have never heard of anyone ever having to test for psi on a bale.
It sounds like you are planning a partial berm house?
If you move to Ky, there are not usually any code requirements outside of city limits. It's great:)
Here to help if I can, but building your own house is not a simple or easy thing. Phil
Terry Ruth wrote:Philip. am I missing something why not use the board and batten exterior as forms?
This is one of the exact questions I was trying to figure out! According to the video (which is was AWESOME!) Using my Board and Battens as my outside forms would cause issues with white mold forming due to the lack of air circulation. According to Chad Christopher who has tried this, it doesn't work.
Terry Ruth wrote:I'd leave some ventilation gaps to ground and out the soffit_ridge vents behind the boards and battens so drying can occur in that direction if need be but, now form work has to be pulled...have large overhangs so water cannot get into the wall, slopes at least 30% grade. If it is super humid there and no wind I'd rethink that one. Understand how the coating's on fasteners are going to react with the mixes.
Unless of course there could be a way of leaving an air gap as you have mentioned between the exterior and the light clay. Unfortunately, I cannot think of a way to actually make this work.
2.Lathe (horizontal 2x4's 32' on center attached to the studs)
3. Board and battens (attached to lathe)
If I simply used the B&B as my form, the light clay would be packed directly against it, causing white mold. Also if I could figure out a way to leave a gap between the B&B and the light clay, it still would not be vented but rather trapped air pockets.
Seems like my best option, as has been said, is to use forms for the inside and out then install the B&B.
Thanks for the reply! We are talking about two different battens. Here is a link to board and battens on a barn, similar to what my structure will look like on the outside.
I am steering clear of the lime plaster on the exterior based on price, availability, skill, and time it takes to do it. Board and batten, while not being as long lasting, is locally available, fairly cheap, quick and easy for me to install. Tho I will be planning either a lime plaster or earthen plaster on the inside over the clay slip.
You have a good point about the clay slip (not straw clay slip ) needing to adequately dry out. The board and battens definitely could hinder that... If it would cause issues, then I would need to just form up the outside walls, take them off, then install the board and battens.
My avid straw-bale construction enthusiasm is definitely being replaced with straw clay slip as I look into it more. Framing for it seems like cake, and the process of making slip (mud water), mixing it with straw, and packing it into a form seems to good to be true.
Can anyone add insight into this situation. I have a structure that I am planning on having board and batten on the exterior and I want to do the falls with straw clay slip. Can I use the board and battens as my outside wall form?
In straw-bale I think it would be recommended to coat the exterior of the bales with a base coat of mud or something to prevent fire, rodents and insects before applying an exterior like wood, so i was just wondering if the straw clay slip is similar in that regard.
Thanks for the reply!
So, I have a few questions that I couldn't figure out from just looking at pictures. What type of joinery is used? Based on what I can see from the pictures, it looks like the floor is framed like any other timber framed floor and then filled in between the joists with what i'm guessing 5 quarter lumber or something and probably with some joinery that doesn't require nails or screws. How am I doing so far? I'll stop blabbing...
And can you list a few of your favorite pros?
Where can I get a description of how to actually build this type of floor?
PS I've really been digging all your "you need to stop being stupid and learn how to build like the Asians" posts! Seriously... How can I begin to think that I can build something that is better than what they have been doing for hundreds of years. Anyway, keep up the good work and let me know when you have a book translating all your weird character things into English
As someone who is completely ignorant of anything and everything having to do with this floor system, would you be so kind as to share some basic information about it such as, pros and cons, materials used, level of difficulty etc? Cheers to the one and only permaCloud
A few quick comments. Sealing the outside of your SB is definitely a baaaad idea. Essentially you are covering your SB with a sheet of plastic. When the moisture from the inside hits the moisture barrier n the oustide, it will condense which will soak your bales and then say bye bye to SB house. Or something like that. Let me reassure you! Lime render on SB is kick butt especially on exteriors. SB structures that have been rendered with lime have lasted ups to 100 years! Here is a thread where J Whitecloud gives some good examples of Lime rendered SB structures. Also here is another thread I had started discussing using tires as a foundation for straw bale. Apparently they have already been doing this in UK. Someone on the thread posted a link you can go to giving detailed plans for that type of thing.
Here is a consumption chart from St. Astier, one of the best Natural Hydraulic Lime distributors in the US. That should help get you on track for home much lime you need. Check out Chris Magwood and what he is doing making his own NHL with domestic pozzolans. You could also consider doing earthen plaster on your walls because you had mentioned wanting earth tones? I guess lime white could count as an earth tone but just wanted to let you know that you could lime the exterior and earthen the interior. Cheers Phil
Great idea and I'm sure there would be unlimited potential. You might have to do some serious marketing since it is not well known but sounds like you have a good start. I really love the PAHS concept but I don't like the plastic and foam insulation that goes along with "conventional" PAHS haha. I had a thought of installing heat tubes underneath large warehouse type structures like walmarts, shopping centers, even parking lots, etc. This would have to be done at the initial build, not a retrofit, but think of it. All that thermal mass goodness. your umbrella is already a part of the build, not an additional expense. Acres and acres that could be tapped into so easily. I figured if I pushed my idea and had a little credibility, it could turn into quite the business. Of course, I don't exactly supports these types of mega buildings in the first place but I'm sure there could be a good morally sound place for my idea somewhere.
Hi Lindsey, welcome to Permies!
I like the pallets idea. It should work fine. I also like the "covered in tin" idea too. As far as insulation, cob is definitely not your best option at all. I would suggest a quality spray in cellulose insulation. Cellulose insulation is made from recycled newspaper more or less depending on what company makes it. This company produces a fairly legit product as far as "green" is concerned. I wouldn't recommend trying to cob over the pallets. Cob does not expand/contract like wood does when moisture and temperature come into play, so... your wood would expand and your cob would crack:/. Hope that helps!
If some sort of PAHS idea was added we could call it Passive Annual Ice Storage instead! Create a massive amount of thermal mass underground around your ice house/root cellar and then pump freezing cold air into it all winter. I'm thinking it would be possible to keep an area BELOW freezing, during the summer, WITHOUT electricity. As far as I know though, no one has done this.. Then you wouldn't even need any ice..
Anyone have thoughts about making a good drive-way without concrete and thousands of dollars in gravel?
I'm thinking: remove the topsoil and trench a drain down the entire center sloping to daylight. Fill the drain with gravel/rubble. Have a good mix of sand/clay and maybe add some crushed limestone. Till everything together and pack really well. And slope everything slightly to the center so any water can drain away.
Not all CO2 production is the same...no where near the same... Biochemically the production of biologically active COS emissions is drastically different than those produced by big industry, and as a permaculturalist (and permaculture site) we no more promote "industry CO2 production" than we do pesticides, and monoculture forests. Everyone should care and be concerned with not only their individual CO2 production but also how industries affect this planet...
Industry creates chemical byproducts, that is real pollution.
Yes it does...in deed! And, the OPC industry is one of the largest there is and backs many more along the way...
Ok so what you're saying is that the concrete industry puts more into the atmosphere than just co2? If so, what exactly, and what exactly is the difference between COS and CO2?
I personally believe that carbon emissions do not effect the climate in a serious way. I do believe that the ice caps are much smaller and still shrinking but no one talks about the natural cycles of the sun and earth. This doesn't mean I advocate big industry it's just that I can't get on to anyone for simply releasing plain CO2 into the atmosphere.
Jay C. White Cloud wrote:
If we had access to the "good" cement used by Romans etc would you use it?
Absolutely...and...we do have it. This yet again "reinvented wheel" of alleged technology that is "geopolymer chemistry" is nothing more than a form of "roman cement," in some of its permutations. We also still have "natural cements" (a.k.a. Rosendale Cement) owned and operated by Mike Edison a friend and colleague, as well as someone inside the "OPC industry that knows full well its many ills and plagues...and he wants to see it changed.
I would! Long lasting, strong, looks great. Yeah It might be expensive but wouldn't it be worth it? Yeah it would take a lot of heat to make, but wouldn't it be worth it?
You lost me here...?? If this is about "Roman Cement" I must suggest more research. RC, NC, and GPC are all very low environmental impacts compared to what the OPC industry is pumping into the Air, ground and water supplies.
I was saying that I would use roman concrete if it were available. Which I'm learning is! More research on my part to follow...
Jay C. White Cloud wrote:
My opc blocks and SBC are by no means up to the Romans standard but hey it's the best Iv'e got for my precise situation. It will last a long time, it will look good, it will be quick to build, it will fit into my land layout and it will be cheapish...
I have to question this mainly because of the nature of this forum and readers that I know follow my writing. OPC in any form has to be confronted and avoided whenever possible. It does not "last a long time," it appearance is a subjective thing as most folks I deal with abhor its esthetics; it speed of construction is an illusion in many ways if the "big picture" is looked at; and as for cost...well I will give you that if all that is considered is the fiscal aspect...Yet, there is so much more in "valuation" than just money...
At this point, my contract for my apartment is up in April and I need a building that is strong, quick to put up, able to be built with readily available materials, and workable on a steep hillside. I'm sure you would be able to come up with a natural design to fit my needs but I'm think my brain is to far committed to my current design to change again.
Bill Bradbury wrote:We moderns have of course been able to discern what is in the great cements of the Romans and many others through high tech methods like thin section analysis, XRD, XRF, SEM and chemical analyses. What we modern people haven't been able to reproduce is the methods employed.
There is a lot more finesse that must be employed with more natural products like lime based cements, but once learned, the whole world opens up and you will never want to use another OPC product. The lime based cements are more flexible and softer, this makes them stronger in application, just as a wet twig is flexible and strong and a dry one is brittle and strong. The brittle nature of OPC based concrete and the products from it are prone to cracking. I have repaired 2 of these and this convinced me of the inferior nature of this building system.
I would suggest that you design your building with natural materials; you will gain valuable experience that will influence everything you build or live in for the rest of your life.
Very informative, thank you Bill. I especially like your twig example. So are you saying ancient Roman concrete is essentially NHL? Have you any experience with Chris Magwood and what he is doing here? Is lime with added pozzolan as good as NHL from France? Thoughts on that? I would love to use lime more but if I have to get it from France that kinda defeats a lot of the purpose of natural building.
As far as repairing two CMU buildings: just because they needed repairs doesn't mean that it is a faulty system but perhaps just a faulty construction of that system? I've seen CMU walls 100 ft long and 30 ft high that have nary a crack in them. I've also seen CMU walls 10 ft long and 3 ft high that have cracked to rubble etc.
I research the Pantheon. VERY cool. Puts modern construction to shame with our pitiful reinforced concrete.
Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hmmm...??...OPC block??...
I am not trying to dissuade, nevertheless, as a permaculture group...opc is usually not encouraged because of the environmental impact of the industry and the general poor nature of modern concretes in general. As a professional builder in the natural-traditional modalities as well as mainstream methods, I have seen a number of these "quick wall" systems fail. They seem simple because they are simple, and perhaps that is their downfall for enduring architecture.
Yes, OPC... I guess I have a slightly different opinion tho we do agree on a lot of points about OPC. I want to use as little as possible mainly because it's not cheap, not because it uses lots energy to produce. I don't view CO2 as pollution for the most part. Trees off gas CO2 when they rot on the forest floor. I don't care how much CO2 my house puts into the atmosphere. I do care how long it lasts, how much it costs and how it looks and I do care if the materials I use for my house cause real pollution or harm to the environment. Conventional studs are grown in spruce mono-cultures. I don't like those... Mono-cultures are not good for the environment. Industry creates chemical byproducts, that is real pollution.
If we had access to the "good" cement used by Romans etc would you use it? I would! Long lasting, strong, looks great. Yeah It might be expensive but wouldn't it be worth it? Yeah it would take a lot of heat to make, but wouldn't it be worth it?
My opc blocks and SBC are by no means up to the Romans standard but hey it's the best Iv'e got for my precise situation. It will last a long time, it will look good, it will be quick to build, it will fit into my land layout and it will be cheapish...
Rhys Firth wrote:PLUS, the description of the exterior/interior binder sounds like an impermeable barrier, so the house would be sealed and hold all it's moisture in, you could run into future mould and mildew problems.
The exterior/interior binder= SBC is in fact impermeable. My earthen floor will help mitigate moisture and my ceiling will be wood, cellulose insulation then vented metal roofing. Also an exhaust fan by bathroom area. So I'm not expecting mold or excessive moisture to be an issue.
Jack Edmondson wrote:To answer Philips question - No. You do not need to use corner blocks. I have seen some information on "dry-stacked's " technique and I believe he alternates the orientation of each course at the corner. I don't believe he actually advocates corner blocks. In his calculator as I recall he shows the compensation for the variation (about a 1/4 of inch as I recall) to compensate for the alternating courses final length.
Thanks for the reply Jack! So just to confirm, you have seen dry-stack construction using regular block? Of course corner block for the corners etc but not in between the corners? I cannot logically think of any strength benefit from using only corner block...
I have seen the calculator things as well. Ill make sure to figure for that.
Also I have another question. What would happen if I mortared my first course of block onto a level rubble trench of gravel? (no concrete footer).
I'm about to order my block for a small building I'm dry-stacking and I'm wondering if I have to use the square corner block instead of the regular block. All the pictures on dry-stacked.com show the square corner blocks but they are a little harder to obtain than the regulars.
Kelly Mitchell wrote:Thanks. - I do have some building experience, but not a lot. I have a friend who built his own conventional house and is quite good who will help/advise.
Great! These types of structures aren't super complex anyway. Plenty of wiggle room.
Kelly Mitchell wrote:One question - I can't seem to figure a way to get the machine there fewer than 3 times - 1) initial dig, 2) covering the addition after construction, 3) covering the insulation after placement. Any thoughts on getting that to 2 runs?
I got nothing....
Kelly Mitchell wrote:I would use earthen floor with a bit of cement mixed in for hardness. Will that work?
It will, but it's not really necessary. Layer of gravel, 3" layer of clay, sand, straw mixture, and a 1" layer of clay, sand skim coat. Essentially. I could go into more detail but that's the basic.
Kelly Mitchell wrote: Can I put posts on the floor, or should I post them on gravel/cement pads, then build the floor around that?
Shouldn't put them on the floor. It's not designed to hold any type of load baring weight. Just sink it in the ground and float your floor around the post. No need for a pad.
Kelly Mitchell wrote:Yes, we have an old cellar - mortared stack stone, 4 ft thick.
Slight slope, rocky clay, very wet climate (Canadian maritimes).
I would hire an earthmover.
As far as the addition goes. Do you have any building experience? Underground/WOFATI type structures can be done on the extreme cheap but you do need to know what you're doing. If you can find salvaged lumber or get a good deal on some, PSP (post, shoring, polyethylene) would be a great option. More conventionally is the permanent wood foundation or you could use whole trees from some woods nearby? If I was building a 400 sf WOFATI style addition and bought all of my materials from the lumber yard, it would cost about $1,300 plus the cost of your floor (earthen floor?), plus the cost of the excavator, plus the cost of finishing the interior. If you use salvaged materials the price comes down, if you use trees you cut yourself it comes down more. Hope that helps. If you have any questions about the different design methods I described please let me know. I would be glad to assist you more if you would like. Phil
Practically speaking, it is not very difficult or expensive to create a PAHS hybrid with an existing home. The idea is to dry out and keep dry as much dirt surrounding your home as possible. I drew up a mock home on paint quick, showing a PAHS modification on a typical home. The yellow line illustrates the amount of heat storage capability before and the green line illustrates an added "umbrella" created with plastic and the new associated storage capabilities.
Does your house have a basement? Do you have access to any machinery? What is the geology of your land? Flat, clay, etc?
While Joel Salatin may not be perfect in all respects, he does do a kick butt job of raising the Cornish X. What he does in a nutshell is: keep the birds in a chicken tractor (12X12), and I think he keeps like 75 per pen= 2 sf per bird. He moves the pens every morning which gives the chickens access to fresh grass and they gobble it up since they haven't had anything to eat since their snack the night before. After they are all moved he goes back and gives them as much feed as they can eat that day and fresh water. At about 7 weeks he will hand pick the big birds from each pen which cuts down on the crowding. The next week he will take out the next biggest etc. Or something like that. His system really does work well tho, Iv'e seen it.
Great idea you have their! I haven't actually heard of anyone building a cob dome but maybe you could consider an earth-bag dome which is very common. Check out Cal Earth's webpage for more info on that.
As far as cob pillars holding a load check out this youtube video of the Cob Castle
The entire structure is held up by cob pillars. I don't know any formulas for how big they must be for what weight etc but just over kill it and you'll be fine .
After a little time has passed, I now conclude that using tires as a foundational element for building is unsuitable for my situation. If slave labor were available I would reconsider, but until then I will figure out other measures for creating affordable and efficient ways of building a foundation.
What you are talking about doing can and has been done. Begin by stacking the bales so that the strings on the bales are visible and exposed. You can then slide strips of wood behind the twine as your furring strips. Plastering in addition to board and batons would be unnecessary, but a clay slip over the bales is recommended for fire protection I guess, which I would forgo. If your boards catch on fire you're toast anyway ha. The advice for the clay slip is recommended for when metal is installed over bales, in that case I definitely would do the slip. A good barn cat will do as much good as a coat of earthen plaster and be a heck of a lot cheaper:). It sounds like you want to do this project fast, easy and cheap and then on your next house pay a little more and spend more time on it. If that is the case, I think my advice is very applicable. Stack the bales, slide in some wood strips, nail up some lathe and install your boards seems like the easy fast way. Maybe not the longest lasting, most problematic proof way, but that's ok. Good luck and happy baling.
P.S. I read a story of a guy who laid some pallets on a gravel pad, stacked up his bales in the before mentioned way, slid in furring strips and put plywood over the whole structure for a quick, easy, affordable, and super insulated shop. What you're talking about is basically the same thing. Hope that gives you some inspiration, and ideas maybe. :)
I would say the infiltration rate is not extremely high due to the high clay content of the soil here. Also it is worth mentioning that the soil is not very deep before the limestone is hit, about 3 ft. I am not concerned above the swale filling up excessively because it will be in a mature forest. The trees do a great job of slowing water down from hitting the ground and when it gets to the ground the roots and leaf litter help with quick infiltration etc.
What exactly is your definition of pollution? And what would you say are the differences between grey water coming out of a septic system and the grey water coming directly out of my future house? I was under the impression that I could basically eliminate the flush toilet and septic from my house but keep the leech line and there would not be much of a difference.
There are no legal guidelines for me to follow (I'm in the backwoods of Kentucky )
I didn't figure I needed a biomass crop because of the already existing trees. ?
I am building a small cottage on my heavily wooded and sloped land and need a way to dispose of my grey water. So far my plan is to use a trenching machine (thanks to a friend) and make a 2.5 ft trench on contour (or with a small slope) and fill 3/4 of the way with gravel and the remaining 1/4 with soil. Basically it would be an underground swale. It wouldn't freeze and I'm sure the trees and soil would readily absorb all the water and nutrients. I'm guessing we will put out about 50 gallons a day in grey water so if my leech line is about 150 ft long that should be ok right?